Formal education opportunities for students are critical to help build and shape America's future cybersecurity workforce. This applies to students at all levels including K-12, two-year community colleges, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students. The Federal Government aims to make such educational opportunities available to every student in the U.S. Component 2 (read more on Component 2 here) of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) campaign was established to strengthen the academic pipeline leading to cybersecurity careers.
One way students can become more involved in cybersecurity is through cyber competitions. Cyber competitions are interactive, scenario-based competitions that help participating individuals develop cybersecurity skills and increase interest in cybersecurity careers. Cyber competitions foster talent in potential cybersecurity professionals who might otherwise be unidentifiable through traditional academic means, and encourage mentor-led atmospheres where participants can practice and hone cybersecurity skills in a controlled, real-world environment. The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Branch (DHS CE&A) aims to identify U.S.-based cyber competitions to analyze which cybersecurity knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), and Specialty Areas (SAs) the competitions test and promote, based on the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (the Workforce Framework).
Fostering Cyber Communities
Additionally, students can participate in various summer camps, including the Integrated Cybersecurity Education Communities (ICEC) project. The ICEC project is designed for U.S. high school students and aims to develop their interest in cybersecurity fields, through the professional development of high school teachers who teach them, and through the cybersecurity summer camps they can attend. High school teachers from multiple academic disciplines receive cybersecurity-integrated professional development courses and participate in cybersecurity camp with select students. Through professional development training, their experience at the camp, and online access to cybersecurity education materials, ICEC project teachers are equipped to bring cybersecurity principles to their classrooms.
Enabling Public-Private Partnerships
The I-Corps program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is designed for college-level students and above. I-Corps is comprised of a set of activities and programs that prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of select, NSF-funded, basic-research projects. While knowledge gained from NSF-supported basic research frequently advances a particular field of science or engineering, some results also show immediate potential for broader applicability and impact in the commercial world. Such results may be translated through I-Corps into technologies with near-term benefits for the economy and society. Combining experience and guidance from established entrepreneurs with a targeted curriculum, I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that teaches grantees to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and offers entrepreneurship training to student participants.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC)
A MOOC is an online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access over the Internet. Anyone with an Internet connection can access MOOCs teaching mathematics, computer science, technology, history and many other focuses from top universities.
MOOCs are another resource that internet users can utilize to begin their career in cybersecurity. To become a cybersecurity professional, basic math, engineering and computer science skills need to be acquired. Below are a few of the MOOC providers that students can utilize to begin course work in these topics.
If you are interested in partaking in MOOCs, simply follow a link above or search for a specific university’s MOOC content to see if they have a course that fits your career and educational goals!